If you look at the ingredients of your favorite brand of toothpaste, you may see that they include fluoride, cleansing agents, and mild abrasives. However, people throughout history used some very different toothpaste components to clean their pearly whites. Check out the good, the bad, and the ugly of archaic toothpaste ingredients.
Abrasive materials are a common toothpaste ingredient seen throughout history because they helped clean plaque and tartar off of teeth. The ancient Egyptians, who are known for inventing the first type of toothpaste, used ox-hoof ashes, burnt eggshells, and crushed rock salt to clean their smile. Though modern research shows that this tooth powder can cause bleeding gums, studies also show that it was effective at cleaning teeth.
Many other abrasive ingredients were used in toothpastes, though some of them were quite strange. The ancient romans made their tooth powder from charcoal, bark, and crushed bone! Another unusual abrasive used to clean teeth in the late 1700’s was burnt toast.
The ultimate wacky toothpaste ingredient belongs to the ancient Romans, who in addition to powdered abrasives, added urine to their toothpaste. As disgusting as this sounds, people would put urine in toothpaste well into the 18th century because this ingredient contained ammonia compounds that helped clean teeth.